Friday, December 31, 2010

December 31st -- Tim's Birthday

Ted, Karen and Tim

When my brother Tim was born on this date in 1951, my father was thrilled -- not because he had his third child and second son in less than three years, but because he arrived in time to provide the family with an additional income tax deduction!  Surely, I kid.

I'm guessing the picture above was probably taken about 1958 or 1959.  By then we also had Karen and Ted in the family.  Cowboy outfits must have been the "in" thing that year if the outfits everyone is wearing are any indication.

What I love most about Tim is the way he thinks.  I may be the family historian from the point of view of collecting and organizing facts on pieces of paper, but Tim will remember every little detail -- especially if it has to do with family cars or certain "records" (remember those?) that he played until there was no vinyl remaining.

He is now the proud father of two, grandfather of two and soon-to-be father-in-law again when his son marries in May.  Happy birthday, Tim -- and here is wishing you many more.


Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wordle, etc. (Goals for 2011)

We're on the final countdown for the year 2010.  It's been a mixed bag for the Reeds -- we're still both here (never assumed) and we got to check off one of the items on our Bucket List by taking a trip to Ireland and Scotland this past September.  I was able to continue being employed part-time at Miami University in a job I love and also work with a program that assists teachers in their effort to integrate technology into their classroom.

One of the pieces of software I learned about was a free application that you can find at  You can input a group of words or tie it to a link by supplying the URL.  When I supplied the URL for my blog, it created the graphic displayed above.  You can select "randomize" and click through different renditions of the same words.  The software selects "nouns."  The more often a noun is used in your post, the larger it is in the graphic.  Based on the graphic posted above, "Christmas", "song", and "family" seemed to be recurring themes.  Try it out -- it's great fun!  You can post a comment below on what you think of the software.

The downside is that you can't save the product to your computer.  You can choose to post it for public viewing or use other software you may have (such as "jing") to capture and save the image.  I'm going to copy and paste this post to see what comes up:

We've been encouraged to look ahead to 2011 and plan what we hope to do "genealogically." I do have a couple of goals:

1) I want to continue exploring new software and apply what I learn to my blog posts.

2) Linking to GeneaBloggers has increased the traffic to this blog and enabled me to benefit from others who have a passion for blogging about their family history. I want to try to read as many other blogs as time will allow.

3) I have six ancestors who served in the Civil War. Since 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, I want to tell what I can of their stories and recognize their service.

4) Hopefully, I will collaborate with our local genealogical society and public library to help teach others how to set up a blog and share their own family histories with the rest of us.

5) I want to treat myself to the Ohio Genealogical Society conference to be held the end of March in Columbus, Ohio. The conference coincides with my birthday. I hope to be accepted as a member of their Century Families and Civil War lineage groups based on applications already submitted. I also submitted an article for a Writing Contest they sponsor annually. If I "win" my article will be published in their quarterly journal.

6) I hope to overcome my distaste for formal citations. For Christmas, my husband gave me a a copy of Elizabeth Shown Mills book, Evidence Explained. Maybe this will make this task more tolerable.

7) I still have a couple of ancestors I need to flesh out -- Elizabeth Kinley Jones was Pennsylvania Dutch. Her husband, Alexander Jones, was allegedly born in Chillicothe, Ohio -- something I need to prove. I would also like to prove when John Cronin and Lucy Cronin died in Kentucky -- definitely brick walls for me.

8) I hope to go to the Ohio Historical Society as I read that they have put together a substantial amount of information re: Ohio units in the Civil War. This may give me a fuller picture of the service of my ancestors.

9) One of the biggest accomplishments of 2010 was meeting and collaborating with a second and third cousin I met through Ancestry. I hope we can continue collaborating in 2011.

10) Finally, I hope for continued good health, an improving economy for all, and more time devoted to exercise and other priorities. I am thankful for my many blessings and look forward to 2011. Here is wishing all who read this a happy 2011!

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Every Christmas I feel like I "have" to make the kind of cookies pictured at the left.  Grandma Ryan used to make them every year.  They were part of our annual Christmas Eve at her house, along with "brown" or "red" cows -- a scoop of vanilla ice cream in a cup with either root beer or "red pop" poured over it.  My favorite cookies were the ones pictured in the middle of the plate.  They are made with a cookie press and then the ridges are covered with sprinkles. They are light, crisp, and have a great texture.

When we were over at Tom's on Christmas day, I recognized a little rocking chair in his family room.  I asked him to remind me of its history.  He told me that the rocking chair had once belonged to my Dad's Dad, our Grandfather "Pop."  Tom has made a point of photographing each of his grandchildren in the chair.  I wish I had photographed the chair empty, but I did flip it over and take a picture of the underside. You can see the original slats that made up the seat of the chair.  Over the years, many of the slats broke and my Dad fitted a plywood seat over the remaining slats. 

So, of course, I had to coax Ian into the chair. He politely accommodated me, but was too involved with the blades of a play helicopter to look at the camera.

Ian's cousin, Mark, played with him by sending "Thomas, the Train" back and forth on the floor.  Ian loves his "Choos" (trains).

I have many pictures of all of us -- too many for a blog -- so I may update this post with another photoshow in a day or two.  Meanwhile, here is a picture of "my" branch of the family.

Liz, Ian, Roland, Santa Don, Bill and Kath

Christmas Eve 2010

My Mom and Dad would be so proud!  Each year, Don (AKA Santa) and Frani host us at their home on Christmas Eve.  Most of the "cousins" alternate Christmas and Thanksgiving with the Joneses and their in-laws.  This was the year that everyone, with the exception of Greg and the Miami Munis, was there for Christmas Eve.  Frani's brother came up with the idea of taking a picture of all of us from above.  He managed to get everyone's faces.

This year we had seven of the "newest" generation and we know by next Christmas that there will be a couple of more additions.  Mom and Dad could not have imagined such a happy, healthy, blessed family.

On Christmas Day, Tom and Linda hosted all of us for Christmas dinner.  This time Greg and Marlena were also able to attend.  I'm amazed that our children came from Akron, Atlanta, Columbus, Minneapolis, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.  I think all of us are grateful that they are happy to "come home."

Ian and Bill
In keeping with the family history aspects of these postings, I tried to be aware of some Jones family traditions.  On Christmas Day, Bill and I pulled out a sled that I and my siblings shared when we were children.  When Liz was young, Bill "rebuilt it."  He had to replace a couple of boards and he wrote to the makers of the Flexible Flyer to get a replacement decal.  We anticipated the day when we would be able to pass it on to Ian. This year we were blessed with a white Christmas in Cincinnati giving us the perfect opportunity.  Pictured are Bill and Ian tightening a few nuts and getting the sled ready for Generation #3.

Ian and Roland
Liz and Roland dressed Ian and took him out for his first sled-riding experience.  I think his face says it all.

Since Roland grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, sled-riding was not a part of his experience growing up.  It was fun for us "older folks" to watch Liz, Roland and Ian playing in the snow.

Liz and Ian

Update:   After completing this post, I couldn't resist going to the basement and searching through the old photo albums to find pictures from when Bill originally restored this sled to give to Liz.  Bill and I do not recognize the "parents."  Was my hair ever brown?  Was I ever thin?  Who is that young guy that doesn't have white hair and beard?  Boy, we're getting old.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Angie, The Christmas Tree Angel

As I mentioned in my last post, my family has had many recent conversations about the songs we remember from our youth.  My brother, Tim, called last week to see if I remembered the song my Dad would sing each year when we placed the angel on the top of our Christmas tree.  Immediately, I started singing "Sweet Angie, the Christmas tree angel ... on the top, tippy tippy top of the tree..."  Of course, if the song had any more words, I could not recall any.

I searched for the song online and was able to quickly find out that the Andrews Sisters had recorded this song in the 50's.  I keep being surprised to discover that the "old songs" my parents would sing were actually contemporary songs released in the time they were singing them.

For those reading this who need a little refresher on the song, I've put together a little photoshow.  I'll bet my siblings will quickly recall the song and that the younger generation will never have heard it.  It's not one of those Christmas songs that has lived on to become part of our collective Christmas psyche.

Let me make a suggestion -- unless you are really into 50's music, I'd stop playing it after the chorus.  If, on the other hand, you love the Andrews Sisters,  play away.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Music of Our Parents

Happiness is . . . blogging about 
my family.

photo Mike Licht,

I'm the oldest of seven -- five boys and two girls.  Our family was always subdivided into the "big kids" and the "little kids."  When I was not yet four years old, my mother gave birth to my sister -- the fourth child in LESS THAN four years!  After a gap of a few years, three more boys came along.  Those who come from large families know this -- you and your siblings did not grow up in the SAME family.  

As one of the "big kids", I distinctly recall my parents singing when we were in the car.  They could both sing pretty well and could even harmonize.  I have a ready list of songs they used to sing and decided to start calling my siblings to see who shared this memory.

As I predicted, this was largely a phenomena shared by the "big kids".  My brother, Tim, third in line (and one of the big kids) had an explanation.  He can recall the year and make of each car our family ever had and said our parents sang until they got a car that had a radio.  He even recalled that once they had a car with a radio, the only functioning speaker was on the passenger side of the car.  My Dad was always turning the volume up while my mother was constantly requesting that he turn it down.

Over Thanksgiving dinner we compared notes on what songs we each recalled.  Sure enough -- the "big kids" certainly recalled more singing than the "little kids."  I thought it would be fun to blog about once a week on the songs we all recall.  So here is installment #1 -  I See the Moon.

I searched and searched for a version of the song that had the same lyrics my parents used to sing. I finally found them with this version recorded by Judy Collins. I was also under the impression that this song was a World War II song that reflected the yearning of two lovers  -- although distance separated them, they could view the same moon.

I was wrong.  According to Wikipedia, the song was composed by Robert Meredith Willson of Music Man fame and was released in 1954.  I was five years old. You can find it through Amazon as an MP3 download.  Here are the lyrics:

I See the Moon

I see moon and the moon sees me 
The moon sees someone that I'd like to see
God bless the moon and God bless me
And God bless the one I love.

I sometimes think the Lord above
Created you for me to love
He picked you out from all the rest
To be the one Dear that I love the best.

Over the mountains and
Over the sea
Back where my heart is longing to be
Please let the light that shines on me
Shine on the one I love.

I've found numerous versions of the lyrics on the internet, but these are closest to what my parents sang. I wanted you to be able to refresh your memory, so I combined the music with some pictures of the moon into a small photoshow.  Click on the link. I encourage you to comment on the songs you remember from your youth in the comments section below.

Note: The pictures in the photoshow are used with the permission of the photographers through Creative Commons licensing. 

Moon Photos
*L*u*z*A*'s photostream

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Looking Ahead to 2011

Jospeh Bickerdyke Darby *

It's Christmastime and I am definitely in the mood.  So you would think that I would want to post all things Christmas.  Yet my genealogical life for the past month has been consumed, not by Christmas, but by the Civil War.  On the face of it, that makes no sense -- so let me explain.

If you ever want to challenge your genealogical/family history skills, try to submit something to a lineage group for the appropriate genealogical society.  Since I am fortunate in having many generations of my family from both maternal and paternal lines
living in Cincinnati, Hamilton County, Ohio, I am a member of both the Hamilton County Chapter of the Ohio Genealogical Society and the Ohio Genealogical Society.  Both organizations have lineage groups that encourage you to DOCUMENT your family's history in the area and submit it for review.  I've already submitted applications and had my families accepted into the First Families of Cincinnati and Settlers and Builders lineage groups for Hamilton County.  A couple of months ago, I submitted applications for both groups' Century Families. In order to qualify, I had to "prove" that my direct ancestors lived in Cincinnati, Ohio a minimum of 100 years ago.  I have many.

The Ohio Genealogical Society also has a lineage group for those who can prove that direct ancestors, and/or their siblings, served in the Civil War.  The year 2011 marks the 150 year anniversary of the start of the Civil War.  I was surprised, when I started investigating, that I have a minimum of six ancestors who qualify for this designation.  I decided to work on submitting the documentation for three who came from the same family line -- two Darby brothers and their brother-in-law, Britton Wainright.  (I've written about Britton at length -- links to posts about Britton are listed at the end of this post).

Joseph Bickerdyke Darby is pictured above.  He came from a family of musicians.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.  I'll write what I know about each of them individually, but I just must postpone "War Stories" until after the holiday season.

So I've finished my application for the Civil War lineage group.  It is more than 60 pages of documentation.  I made the decision to only submit three of my six ancestors this year as I'm just running out of time.  I encourage anyone who reads this post to look at what opportunities are available through your local genealogical societies.  You'll meet wonderful people whose eyes don't glaze over at the mention of family history.  They will point you in the direction of numerous resources.  In the end, your family will benefit from the attention to detail that is necessarily a part of submitting applications for consideration.

Now -- off to enjoying my living family!

Links to posts about Britton Wainright

* I want to thank Martha Darby Rutter, gg-granddaughter of Joseph Bickerdyke Darby, who graciously sent me this picture and gave permission to post it.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas, 2010

Merry Christmas
Bill and Kathy Reed 

Fred and Norine's Crib

It's 4:44 PM on Sunday, December 12th. I spent my day putting together a photoshow with pictures of Fred and Norine Jones. I've wanted to do it for a long time and use one of Norine's favorite hymns, What a Friend We Have in Jesus, for the background music.  I'm not totally satisfied with the end product because the music I downloaded sounds a little old-fashioned for my tastes.  You can give me your opinion. Click on this link:  Fred and Norine's Photoshow

The Christmas cards are starting to arrive, and I realized it's been several years since I've sent any.  So please accept this effort as a Christmas card from Bill and me.

The snow is gently falling outside of my window, "Soundscapes" music is playing in the background, and I just finished putting up some new LED lights along with the fake greenery that lines the top of our television entertainment center.  The dog is in my lap as I type and I am grateful for another year of blessings leading me into this season.

While thinking about this blog, I wanted the pictures to be "Christmasy".  I looked through last year's Christmas cards to see if anything jumped out at me.  I think you would agree that I hit the jackpot with this picture of Mae and John Casebere sent by Adam and Melissa (and reprinted here with their permission).

I know Santa is holding John, but for all the world I see a baby Jesus in a manger when I look at it.  It makes me realize, once again, how precious life is, and how blessed we are as a family to have so much of it.

I'm sure I'll end up writing some other posts before the New Year, including posts that picture my grandson and his parents, but for now -- please know that Bill and I are grateful  for each and every one of you.

Merry Christmas
With love . . . 

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Betty's Box - Part III

Let me introduce you to Larry Arnett and his wife, Betty Hodges Arnett.  Betty is the daughter of Wyvetta (Betty) Hodges who was the keeper of all of those precious family documents and pictures.  She is a second cousin to me.  Rachel Wainright Jones (Pop's Mom) is our common ancestor -- our g-grandmother.

I currently find myself living in this strange 21st Century world where the people I talk to, write to and share family information with, I'VE NEVER MET!  Count Betty among that number.  When Betty and I first "met" she told me of the family's frequent moves.  She joked that her mother never cleaned the house, she'd move instead.  But there was one constant -- everywhere they moved, "Betty's Box" moved with them.

Edith holding Wyvetta
The box held items I consider to be priceless.  The last two posts contain many of the items, including pages from the family Bible and pictures of our ancestors (often labeled).  Betty was not aware of who many of the people were, so we are grateful to each other.

Betty is one of four children:  Don and Mary Lee (deceased), Betty and John Patrick (known as Pat).  The family moved to Florida in 1949 when Betty was only a few years old.  My grandfather, Pop, and her grandmother, Edith, remained close all of their lives. Since I always knew that my grandmother, Norine, was happiest at home, I was surprised when Betty shared  pictures of Fred and Norine when they came to visit them in Florida.

Wyvetta (Betty) greeting Norine when
they came for a visit in Florida.

Pictured is Pat and Betty carrying Pop's luggage from the train station in Orlando.  Betty tells me she was known as "Skipper" her entire childhood and did not realize she had another "legal" name until registration for Junior High School.

Fred and Norine at the Orlando Train Station, 1951

Fred, Norine, Wyvetta, Donnie, Pat and "Skipper"

When Betty and I were first trying to understand our connections to each other, she sent me a picture that summed it up.  This is a great picture of our combined families taken in Cincinnati in 1941. On the back of the picture, it said that this was taken when the family went to the Viaduct Inn to celebrate Edith Hodges' 59th birthday (Pop's sister)! With the help of a "cousin collaboration" I'm going to do my best to identify the people in the picture.  (Corrections and additions welcomed).

From left to right in the top row: Fritz Breving, Fred Jones, ?, Norine, Margaret Ann, Edith Breving, Emery Hodges, Edith Hodges and Harold Hodges
Bottom row:  ? ,  Donnie Hodges, Mary Lee Hodges ?, Bob Breving, Rosemary Breving, Fred Breving, ?,  and Wyvetta (Betty) Hodges

Thanks so much, Betty.  I look forward to the day we actually meet!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Betty's Box - Part II

As mentioned in the previous post, my second cousin Betty and I have yet to meet in person.  Last May Betty started scanning in pictures from her mother's box.  One of the first priceless pictures she sent was this one of her family.  From left to right are pictured Don, Edith Jones Hodges (sister of my grandfather Fred Jones), Wyvetta ("Betty"), Mary Lee and Betty.  Betty told me that she is the only one in the picture who is still living.  She also has a younger brother, John Patrick, known as "Pat" who was not yet born when the picture was taken.  It is the elder Betty who was responsible for holding onto all of the documents and pictures in "The Box."

There were several "priceless" pictures in Betty's Box.  One pictured my grandfather, Fred Jones (Pop) with his two siblings:  Edith and Leo.  I had never seen a picture of him as a young boy.

Edith, Leo, and Fred 

Britton Wainright and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Darby had two daughters and a son who lived to be adults.  There are numerous posts on this blog about Britton (you can use the search function to read about him) who died of heatstroke while traveling with a unit of Home Guards to confront John Morgan of Morgan's Raiders.  He left a widow and three children.  One of his daughters, Rachel, is the great-grandmother of both Betty Arnett and the descendants of Fred Jones.  I was such an admirer of Rachel and never thought I would see a picture of her.

Because Ruth was the older of the two girls, we believe that from left to right are pictured Rachel, Thomas, Ruth, and their mother, Mary Elizabeth Darby Wainright.  Rachel was "Pop's" mother.

Through the wonders of Ancestry, I've also been in contact over the years with another cousin, Rhonda.  She descends from Ruth's side and was able to help with the identification of the grandchildren of Mary Elizabeth from the Hutcheson/Hutchinson side of the family.  Ruth Wainright married a Hutchinson.  One of her sons was a photographer and took this picture.  The Hutchesons lived in Evansville, IN.  Through a "cousin collaboration", we were able to identify all six of Mary Elizabeth's grandchildren.  Moving in a clockwise direction from the bottom are:  Mary Olive Hutchinson, Charles "Fred" Jones, Mary "Edith" Jones, Leslie T. Hutchinson, Thomas Harvey Hutchinson, and Leo Wainright Jones.

As I don't want to lose the picture record, I think we'll just have to have one more post from "Betty's Box".

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Betty's Box - Part I

Wyvetta "Betty" Hodges
One of the advantages of an Ancestry membership is that they will notify you if someone else is researching a member of your family tree through Ancestry.  Last spring I was notified that someone was researching a member of my Jones branch.  Since I'm not shy, I tried to contact this person through their "Member Connect" option.  Through Ancestry, you can contact the other person without revealing any personal information.  They can choose to get back in touch with you or ignore your request.

As it ended up, "Betty" was my second cousin.  She was visiting a sister-in-law who was sharing her research with Betty.  Betty suggested to her sister-in-law that she search on a member of her family, which led to a connection in mine.

We share the same g-grandmother, Rachel Wainright Jones. Rachel was the mother of my grandfather, Charles "Fred" Jones and Betty's grandmother, Mary Edith Jones.  That makes us second cousins.

Betty's mother was named Wyvetta.  (Wyvetta is pictured above on a boat trip she took to Louisville with my grandfather, Pop, and her cousin, Edith). Wyvetta's cousin, Leo, was unable to say "Wyvetta" and instead called her "Mybet."  As a result the entire family started calling her "Betty."

Wyvetta married Harold Joseph (Ruflow) Hodges who worked in construction.  In 1949, he moved the family to Florida, moving from one side of town to the other depending on where the work was. The family often returned to Ohio during the summer where her father was easily able to get employment.

My newly-discovered cousin is also named Betty.  Her maiden name, "Hodges" is part of my family's folklore.  The Hodges had a reputation for "not staying put", especially in Betty's mother's generation.  If it was said that you were "one of the Hodges," it meant that you weren't one to stay in one place.  My Dad would always say that his sister, Margaret Ann, was "either dying or going on vacation."  This characteristic made her "one of the Hodges."

Betty Hodges Arnett was the person conducting this miscellaneous search on Ancestry who ended up being my second cousin.  We exchanged email addresses and phone numbers and the pieces started falling into place.  Betty remembered my grandparents, Norine and Fred, and their home on Eastern Ave (now Riverside Dr).   Her mother had a car and during the summer she would often bring Betty and her siblings to Cincinnati from Owensville to go swimming at the LeBlond pool located close by. As a child Betty remembers my grandfather's visits to see his sister, Edith Hodges. There was nothing Pop preferred more than a Sunday drive. My cousin, Fred Breving, remembers with fondness being one of Pop's frequent companions on these drives.

During our phone conversations, Betty told me of a box that had belonged to her mother.  "Betty's Box" had been moved from place to place throughout her childhood.  It contained labeled family pictures and copies of pages from her grandmother's family bible.  THIS IS ONE IF THOSE TIMES THAT FAMILY HISTORIANS LIVE FOR!!!

Betty, who lives in Florida, scanned in copies of the family bible and other pictures contained in the box.  As I had spent several years trying to prove that my gg-grandfather, Britton Wainright, qualified as a member of "First Families" in Hamilton Co., Ohio, I almost viewed her scans with fear.  My documentation had been accepted by the Hamilton County Genealogical Society.  What if I was wrong?

Imagine how excited I was to discover that her grandmother's bible entries completely agreed with what I had found?  I was able to enlarge the scans and make transcripts of the documentation.  I still get goose bumps when I think of the experience.  Pictured  are the scans Betty sent to me.

In addition to the three scans posted, there are three additional scans. It it difficult to read them in this form, although I love picturing the information just the way Mary Edith Jones Hodges entered the information into her Bible. Should you be interested in all of the scans with their transcriptions, email me and I will send you the file ( In the next post, I will share some of the precious pictures stored in "Betty's Box."  I'm sure Edith Hodges would be very surprised that we are all able to view her record keeping -- and I will be forever grateful.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

When the Pieces Fall Into Place -- Toppling the Brick Wall

I first became interested in my family history nine years ago.  Recovering from hip replacement surgery, I was frustrated with my temporary lack of mobility and was suffering from “cabin fever” due to the cold, gray days typical of Cincinnati in December.  My daughter suggested that I “do something” with the family information my mother had left me as a way of coping with my confinement. My husband picked up on the suggestion and had some genealogy software he had not yet used.  I started entering the information and within a month, I was hooked.

Anyone who has taken that first step can identify with the social aspects that naturally arise from this hobby.  Soon I was contacting aunts, uncles and cousins for help in understanding the material I had and seeking additional information for the material I was missing. The first person I contacted was a cousin who is 16 years older.  She offered to send me some documents, but then told me “not to be surprised if the person I had always been told was the father of my grandmother was NOT her father.” What??

Norine Dailey Cronin
My father’s mother was Norine Jones.  Norine, who I referred to as “Jan” was known to be a bit secretive. She never discussed her age or the date of her birthday or wedding anniversary.  There were even whispers that perhaps my grandparents had never married.  A trip to the Hamilton County Court House in Cincinnati was all it took to verify that my grandparents had been married for 59 years!  So why the secrecy?  

Family records have always identified Norine’s father as John Cronin.  Norine was the youngest of six children born to John Cronin and Lucy Probert.  John, Lucy and their four oldest children are living in Mt. Sterling, Montgomery County, Kentucky and are listed in the 1880 Census. Another sister, Addie, was born in November 1880. 

Norine was not born until 1884, a time when birth registrations were not yet required.  As all genealogists know, there are no 1890 U.S. Census Records to consult.  There was other evidence, however.  John Cronin was listed as Norine’s father on her Death Certificate.  Her maiden name was “Cronin” in the Death Notice published in the newspaper.

With all of this evidence, I waited anxiously to see what kind of contradictory evidence my cousin would provide.  She sent me two documents.  One was a copy of her mother’s baptismal record.  Norine’s last name was recorded as “Dailey”.  Later, when my aunt got married, her mother’s name was listed as “Norine Dailey”.  I reviewed her application for a Marriage License and was surprised to find out that my grandmother listed her name as Norine Dailey Cronin but then listed her father as William Dailey – not John Cronin.

I was able to get a copy of the marriage record for St. Rose Church.   Their record claims that the wedding was between Jones and Dailey.  A little understanding of Latin proves that once again, her father’s name was listed as William Dailey. 

Thus began a nine-year quest to solve this mystery.  Why would she use both Dailey and Cronin as surnames?  There had to be a simple explanation.  My first breakthrough came when I was able to verify that Norine’s five older siblings were placed in an orphanage in northern Kentucky.  I was able to get a copy of their intake record and found that their father’s status was listed as “dead”.  They were placed in the orphanage in 1884, 22 days before Norine was born.  My theory went something like this – John Cronin died sometime between 1880 and 1884.  Her mother remarried William Dailey.  Norine, however, chose to use the last name of her older siblings when she moved to Cincinnati as a young adult, at times living with her half-siblings.

To confirm this theory, I needed to do one of two things:  1) prove that John Cronin was already dead at the time of Norine’s conception, or 2) find a marriage record for Norine’s mother, Lucy, and William Dailey.  For years I used all of my research skills to prove one or the other.  Unfortunately, Death Certificates were not required in the 1880s and deaths were only generally recorded in the larger cities.  In addition, I was not able to locate a marriage record for Lucy and William.  Multiple visits to the Montgomery County Court House, the Mt. Sterling library “Kentucky Room” and the Kentucky Archives in Frankfort did not help solve the mystery.

Only fellow family researchers can understand how frustrated I was at not being able to trace my paternal line beyond my grandmother.  Was my great-grandfather a Cronin or a Dailey?  Which path should I follow?

William Dailey was a resident of Mt. Sterling.  According to Census documents, he didn’t live far from the Cronins.  He was living with his older sister, Ellen.  The Cronins and Daileys appeared to be close friends.  Ellen was listed as the Godmother in the baptismal record for Charles Cronin, John and Lucy’s third child.  My theory seemed to be more and more plausible.

Just as I was becoming content with my explanation, I found the Death Certificate for William Dailey.  He was 65 years old when he died in 1921 of tuberculosis and liver cancer.  His occupation was “Dancing Teacher.”  His marital status was single, never married, and his body was returned to Mt. Sterling for burial.  That shot part of my theory – he and Lucy had apparently never married.  At the time of his death, he was living in northern Kentucky.  Norine would have been 36 years old.  Did he not have a relationship with his daughter?  How could my grandfather, in his role as “informant” for my grandmother’s death certificate, be confused about who her father was?

The answer would not come easily – but the answer would turn my theory upside down!

About a year ago, I was able to make a connection with a third cousin through Ancestry.  We share the same gg-grandfather, Thomas Probert.  Thomas was Norine’s grandfather, but he was not alive at the time of Norine’s birth.  We were comparing notes on this family when she asked me why I had not considered traveling to Lexington to see what clues might be available there.  

In the family notes passed on to me by my mother, it said that Norine was born in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky but that she went away to school in Lexington because her mother (Lucy) had been “sick a long while.”  I had always assumed that Lucy died not long after Norine’s birth and that Norine, like her older siblings, had been placed in an orphanage.  I felt there was little hope of finding some kind of information on a child and was already aware that there was no death certificate for Lucy.  Lexington was, however, the one place I had not searched for information.

Imagine my delight when a search of the 1890 Lexington City Directory had a listing for Lucy Cronin, widow of John!  Finally!  For the first time I could verify that Lucy had relocated to Lexington and that my grandmother’s mother was still alive (but perhaps ill) when Norine was six years old.  It was her address, however, that confused me.  Her residence was listed as Madame Sue Green’s.

A second search of the City Directory for Sue Green found her listed in bold print as a “business”’ Sue Green was a widow, residing at 35 Megowan.  I called the librarian over for her interpretation and she did not want to share with me that Megowan was the well-known “red-light district” in Lexington, often referred to as “The Hill.”

The Lexington Public Library has a wonderful collection of digitized old newspapers from the area.  A quick search of this collection came up with the following article published in the Press on February 2, 1895.

Wow! Things were certainly turning out differently from what I had anticipated! 

After letting this new information sink in, I returned home and started searching the newspapers to read everything I could about the “resorts” and “bawdy houses” of the time.  One name kept recurring.  Belle Brezing was a famous Lexington Madam with a national reputation.  She ran a very “high-class” house.  Newspaper articles referred to both a book and a play that had been written about Belle.  The Friends of the Lexington Library were offering a copy of the currently out-of-print book for sale.  I ordered a copy. 

Several parts of the book held particular interest for me.  Belle had a little girl by the name of Daisy May.  Belle arranged for Daisy May to live with a woman in the neighborhood, Mrs. Barnett.  When Daisy was about six years old, Mrs. Barnett and the family doctor had the unpleasant task of getting Belle to accept that her daughter was “retarded” – a fact Belle had refused to accept.  Although the doctor suggested an asylum for Daisy May, Belle would not agree.  

Finally, from the church, she (Belle) found out about a school and institution run by nuns in Newport, Kentucky, where Daisy would be taught what she was capable of learning.  And so, when she was about six years old, Daisy May was sent to northern Kentucky to live in the school where Belle was assured she would have love and care and be with other children her age. She was enrolled under the name Daisy Barnett.  Since Belle was widely known by then, it is quite possible that Mrs. Barnett took the child to Newport and used her own name and to avoid any connection to Belle.

Mrs. Barnett and the doctor were the only ones other than Belle who knew where Daisy May went. A story of Belle’s choice was leaked to explain Daisy May’s departure.  “Belle Brezing’s girl is in an expensive girls’ school in the East.” (p. 46)

When Madam Sue Green (mentioned earlier) was charged in 1888 with “running a disorderly house” and fined $300, several letters were sent to the governor by irate men who considered this a “travesty of justice.”  One such letter stated:

She (Sue Green) has two children, a boy eleven years old, that is off at school and a daughter at the convent, being educated, and I am reliably informed that she is raising them as they should be – It necessarily takes a good deal of money to maintain and educate them, and she has a hard struggle to do this and to support herself. (p. 60)

Daisy May was now eighteen, and her mental condition was obviously not going to improve.  Once again through the church, Belle arranged for Daisy’s transfer to the House of the Good Shepherd on Fort Street in downtown Detroit, Michigan.  The home had 345 inmates.  Its stated purpose was to “restore fallen women to the path of virtue and to protect young girls who are liable to temptation from unfavorable surroundings.” (p. 73)

With these clues, I started investigating the Sisters of the Good Shepherd.  Sure enough, they had a home for girls in Highland Heights, Newport, Kentucky.  This particular order of nuns takes an additional vow in addition to the usual poverty, chastity, and obedience.  Their fourth vow is “zeal” which was defined as making every effort to convert or save the souls of the women and girls they rescued.

Once again, I searched the 1900 Census for Norine.  I had never been able to find her in the census even though her name was not common and she was 16 years old and should have been listed.  This time I noticed something that had been meaningless to me in previous searches.

There it was – the Highland House of the Good Shepherd, Campbell, Kentucky!  The book about Belle Brezing cited several cases where the daughters of these women were sent “away to school” or were living in a convent.  All of the information within the census document matched what I knew to be true about Norine.  The only discrepancy was the first name of this 16 year old.  My grandmother was not named Augustine. Was it possible they changed her name? Once again the book about Belle gave a clue.  “In order to protect the girls from identification and possible embarrassment, they were all given assumed names.” (p. 73)  Although I felt I had solved the mystery, I still wanted official confirmation.

I contacted the archivist for the Diocese of Covington to see if they were in possession of any records that would answer my questions.  The archivist confirmed for me that they had a baptismal record for my grandmother and offered to send me a copy of the microfilmed image and a transcription.  I had provided him with both the names “Norine” and “Augustine”.  Unbelievably, the record contained both names.  Most importantly, the record listed the parents of Norine as William Dailey and Lucy Probert!

"Cronin: Norine Cronin, aged 7 years, Daughter of William Daly & Lucy Cronin was baptized in the Convent of the Good Shepherd on the 1st of  December, 1891. Sponsors Rev. Father Meyers & August Garn. She received  the name Augustine (maybe Augustina).  Baptized by Rev. Father Meyers."

The archivist went on to say, “I'm only making a good guess at the names Norine & Augustine because you gave me those names, but what is written on the record looks like those could be the right names. It looks like the first name of one of the sponsors was August (Garn is just a guess at his last name), which would seem to confirm that her baptismal name was Augustine if she was named after him. Also, the month is probably December since this was the last entry for 1891.”

Lucy Probert Cronin
I still have a few questions.  How old was Norine when she went to the House of the Good Shepherd?  What happened to her mother?  Why did her biological father not marry her mother?  But the answers have been many.  My grandmother was a devout Catholic all of her life.  In hindsight, no surprise there.  As mentioned earlier, she was secretive.  I can see where it would serve no useful purpose for her to be forthcoming about her difficult family past.  She loved to sew – a skill acquired by all girls in the convent as part of an effort to provide them with employable skills.  A family record lists her name as “Norine Augusta” in contradiction to all other records that listed her name as “Norine L.”, the “L” most likely for her mother Lucy.  Augusta probably referred to the name given to her at the time of her baptism.

I do not stand in judgment of my great-grandmother, Lucy.  The reading I have done over the past month has provided me with insight into the limited choices women had at the end of the 19th century. 

“There were a number of roads that led to prostitution.  Some women found themselves without money or the skills to earn it.  Some were left stranded by husbands who died or deserted them.  Others were turned out of their homes for transgressions.” (p. 96) 
Lucy’s husband died leaving her with five children.  Her parents were both dead, her mother dying at the age of 29.  She eventually became pregnant by a man who for whatever reason did not marry her.  A woman who was able to find employment could expect to make 10 cents an hour and work a sixty-hour week – hardly conducive to raising children.  The choices Lucy made resulted in my very existence – and so I am grateful to her. 

Lucy’s daughter, Norine, married, had five children, 19 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren by the time of her death.  (Pictured is the family before the fifth child was born). She was a “soul mate” to my grandfather who obviously knew her history and was able to protect her.  I am thankful that in the 21st century, most women in the United States are not confronted with such difficult “non-choices.”